Mon Jam, Chiang Mai; Escape to the Mountains, Glamping in Style
Have you ever heard of Mon Jam in Chiang Mai? I first lived in Chiang Mai waaay back in 2007 and had never heard of it. Yet it’s just 45 minutes drive from Chiang Mai city. A beautiful drive up into the mountains. Where the Hmong Tribes live, where the weather is fresh (even chilly!) and the views will make you think you’re in New Zealand or my home country of Ireland.
While most tourists know the main things to do in Chiang Mai, and even the best day trips from Chiang Mai (like the white temple in Chiang Rai or the Pu Chi Fah sunrise spot), Mon Jam never gets mentioned. Why? It’s marketed almost exclusively to the domestic Thai tourism market. If you ask any Thai about Mon Jam, they know it. Thai bloggers go to their in their droves. But foreigners? Not yet. I hope I can help you guy discover it now too!
Table of contents
What is Mon Jam
Mon Jam (ม่อนแจ่ม) is a mountain community/village about 1 hour from Chiang Mai, near the town of Mae Rim. It’s famous for being home to the ethnically diverse Hmong Tribespeople, and the cold weather combined with gorgeous mountain views.
Where is Mon Jam
North of Chiang Mai, about 37km (25mile) drive. First you drive from Chiang Mai city to Mae Rim town, just on the outskirts of Chiang Mai. Then you take a left into the mountains. The last 20 minutes or so are a spectacular drive (or ride if you’re in a motorbike).
How to get to Mon Jam
First, presumably, you’ll be in Chiang Mai. Now, you have 3 choices to get from Chiang Mai to Mon Jam. Drive yourself, take a taxi or ride a scooter.
The 2nd half of the journey is STEEP. I took an old Honda Civic automatic, and it was a slow drive up the hill! Better to have a 4-wheel-drive vehicle, but it is possible with a 2-wheel drive like mine.
If you’re on a scooter, if it’s 125cc or less, AND automatic, AND 2 people are riding – it will be a slow, zig-zagged approach.
The road isn’t too bad actually, it’s just the gradient. And then once you reach the town of Mon Jam, and drive to your campsite, that’s the only bad bit of road, the last hundred metres or so.
A taxi is around 1000THB each way ($30USD).
Things to do in Mon Jam
Mon Jam, as I mentioned, is just outside Mae Rim. And Mae Rim is home to half of the activities in Chiang Mai! So in terms of things to do, there are a lot. Let’s have a look:
- Camping in Mon Jam. This is the main event. Day trips to Mon Jam from Chiang Mai are possible, but I recommend staying 1 night and staying in the huts/pods.
- Pongyang Jungle Coaster Zipline. There’s a cafe complex near Mon Jam, just 10 minutes drive, that’s home to a zipline, a great coffee shop and a rustic ‘jungle coaster’, where you control a little cart at the speed of your choosing around the jungle. Really cool.
- Mae Sa waterfall. Just as leave you Mae Rim, before you start the mountain drive, you’ll find Mae Sa Waterfall.
- Elephant POOPOOPAPER Park. A Chiang Mai insitution. Great for kids. An ethical, pro-elephant centre that recycles elephant poo into PAPER! Yup.
- Flying Squirrels Zip Line Chiang Mai. Chiang Mai’s most famous zipline.
- Coffee @ Pong Yeang Berry-Windyhill. Popular with the instagram crowd is Berry-Windyhill Cafe. Great view points and cheap, tasty thai food. A good spot for lunch.
- Queen Sirikit Botanical Garden and it’s canopy walk. Not my kinda thing, but a well-made Royal botanical garden. The canopy walkway is pretty cool though.
- Strawberry Farms. The weather in Mon Jam means strawberries are in abundance. You’ll drive past no less than 20 strawberry farms, all of which have a little shop selling fresh produce. Stop by when you drive past.
- Skywalk Mon Jam. Rivaling the botanical gardens canopy walk is Mon Jam’s skywalk. Flowers a plenty, great views and, you guessed it, perfect for the Instagram lovers!
- Waterfall restaurant (ฟักแก้วริมน้ำ). Lunch spot, right by a waterfall. Traditional thai-style seating, as local as it comes!
Where to Stay in Mon Jam
Mon Jam used to have nowhere to stay. It was a traditional village-style culture. Then people started discovering just how beautiful it was up there. So the homestay culture was born. For a few dollars you could stay with local people. Next? Camping. And then after that took off, glamping! Now, there are more than 20 glamping ‘camp sites’.
You can stay in little mountain huts, tents, pods, all types of glamping. Some with running water, some without. Same for wifi, hot water, restaurants etc. But where is best to stay in Mon Jam?
Phu Doi Homestay (ภูดอย โฮมสเตย์ ม่อนแจ่ม) is the best choice. You can message them on Facebook, they speak enough English to book a room.
Phu Doi has the best views, it’s pretty much at the top of the hill. It also has a choice between either tents, or wooden huts. They have wifi, a little shop (beers, snacks etc), breakfast is included and you can order dinner (although limited vegetarian options, bring your own, that’s what we did – and they heated it for us).
The best room within Phu Doi homestay is ROOM NUMBER 4. Aim for that. It’s a hut rather than a tent, so you have an indoor bathroom with running hot water, and electricity sockets, and aircon. Pricing? It ranges between 1390THB to 2500THB depending on the season. It was 1690THB when I was there (During COVID) which is about $50.
What about the Hmong Tribespeople?
The Hmong people are an indigenous group located across Southern China, Northern Vietnam, Western Laos and the North of Thailand. Despite the globalization of Thailand, being located in the mountains of Thailand has protected their culture, and most can still be seen wearing their traditional clothing. Although they of course speak Thai, their mother tongue is actually Mong-Mien.
Final thoughts on Mon Jam Chiang Mai
Traveling from Chiang Mai to Mon Jam should be on everyone’s list of things to do in Chiang Mai. Both for tourists, but also for expats and digital nomads in Chiang Mai who want to escape the city and have a little more nature in their lives. It’s the perfect place to spend a couple of days.
A day trip to MonJam is possible,but personally, I recommend glamping in Mon Jam for one night. It’s comfortable, and you get to wake up n that fresh mountain air. Heaven. Enjy!
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